7 foods that will boost your energy (naturally!)

Lack of energy is such a common problem, and something that most of us seem to suffer from. It’s no wonder when you consider how much busier life seems to have become. Often, because we’re so busy, we find ourselves drinking a few too many cups of coffee and reaching for the wrong types of foods hoping for a quick energy fix. While there are foods that give us a quick energy boost, what we really need is food that keeps up our energy all day long. By avoiding refined sugars and eating more wholegrains and unsaturated fats, you’ll find your energy levels will be more consistent throughout the day.

If you’re stuck for ideas, here are 7 foods that will naturally boost your energy:

Bananas

Bananas are often recommended to athletes due to their ability to keep the body fuelled. They are also a source of natural sugars (not to be confused with refined sugars) which provides a natural and sustained energy boost. Try putting one in a breakfast smoothie or keep one for a quick afternoon pick me up.

Nuts

Nuts often get a bad reputation as being high in fat but they actually contain good fat, the kind you should be eating more of. A handful of mixed nuts is surprisingly filling as well as providing you with an energy kick. Try carrying some around in your bag or keeping a container in your desk. You’ll find that you only need a handful to feel full.

boost your energy

Whole grains

Studies have found that along with other numerous benefits of eating whole grains, increased energy is a one of the key benefits. With a low Glycaemic Index, whole grains provide a gradual energy release rather the quick high of other foods. Next time you’re at the supermarket, reach for the wholegrain option and avoid the ‘white’ varieties.

Eggs

Eggs are another food that often get mistakenly labelled as a ‘bad’ food. Eggs are packed full of minerals, contain lots of protein and keep you feeling full for longer.  Be careful how you cook your eggs as this is where the unhealthy part can come into play. Try to stick to poached or hard boiled for the best health benefits.

Oats

Starting your day with a high energy breakfast, will get your day off to a great start. The high fibre breakfast will provide sustained energy throughout the day. Why not add some sunflower seeds or berries to them for an extra nutritious breakfast. Oats have the added advantage of being very cheap too.

Blueberries

Blueberries are high in fibre and low in fat, perfect for keeping you full for longer. As well as being packed with energy, they also contain high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C. They taste great too, and if you can’t get them fresh, frozen are just as good. Blueberries are great in smoothies or mixed with yogurt.

boost your energy

Water

OK, so water isn’t technically a food, but it IS an energy booster. Dehydration is a leading cause of feeling tired. Drinking water consistently throughout the day, combined with a healthy and nutritious diet will keep you energetic and ready to go. Aim to keep a bottle with you at all times.

Remember, the key to a natural energy boosting diet is consistency. Try to incorporate these foods into a balanced and healthy diet, limit your refined sugar and caffeine intake, and you start to see improvements in your stamina and energy during the day.

boost your energy

 

Superfoods: The A to Z of good stuff in foodstuff

Ever wondered what makes superfoods so very super?

Superfoods are nutrient-rich foods that can enhance your health and wellbeing

New items get added and dropped from various Superfood reference lists each year, with more exotic recent additions including chia seeds, goji berries and quinoa. But what’s really interesting is that all of the current lists still feature the 10 essential supermarket items we’ve been encouraged to include in our diets for the past 20 odd years.

These proven ‘superfoods’ include:

  1. Avocados: Help protect against eye disease and lower cholesterol.
  2. Blueberries: Vitamins C & K, flavonoids, fibre, manganese, anthocyanins
  3. Broccoli: Helps protect your cells from the damage of free radicals, enhancse immune system function and improves reproductive health as well as being said to help fight cancer.
  4. Eggs: Quality protein, vitamins A,D, E, many B vitamins, iron, zinc, iodine, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, choline
  5. Kidney Beans: Insoluble and soluble fibre, protein, magnesium, potassium
  6. Kiwi Fruit: Vitamin A, C and E, potassium, fibre
  7. Oats: Zinc, calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, soluble fibre
  8. Red capsicum: Vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopene
  9. Spinach: Great source of iron, Vitamin C, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamin K.
  10. Tinned sardines: Omega-3 fatty acids, quality protein, calcium, vitamin D, some B vitamins, selenium

Other popular superfoods include:

  • Acai: Helps fight aging
  • Banana: Helps with depression, cancer protection, diabetes, osteoporosis and blindness.
  • Barley: Lowers blood pressure, protect against cancer and keep blood-sugar levels stable.
  • Cacoa: Regulates digestive system and improve brain power.
  • Chia: Great source of omega-3.
  • Cinnamon: Helps control blood sugar.
  • Coconut: Helps digestion, aids diabetes, supports immunity and digestion.
  • Goji Berries: Improves blood circulation, strengthens limbs, improves eyesight, protects the liver, increases libido and boosts immune system.
  • Green Tea: Source of antioxidants.
  • Hemp: Great vegan protein.
  • Kale: Improves digestive health.
  • Lacuma: Antioxidant and immune-enhancing activity.
  • Lentils: Helps lower cholesterol and support heart health.
  • Macca: Better immune system and more energy.
  • Manuka Honey: Heals and enhances skin renewal.
  • Pomegranate: Three times the antioxidants of green tea or red wine, and may play a role in the prevention of cancer and heart disease.
  • Quinoa: Very nutritious and good for your heart.
  • Salmon: Great for healthy skin, hair and bones.
  • Spirulina: Increases antioxidant protection, fights free radicals, fights the aging process.
  • Sweet Potatoes: Help stabalise blood sugar.
  • Yoghurt – Restores digestive balance.

There are heaps more that can be added to the list, such as nuts, including almonds and pistachios. And let’s not forget watercress, pumpkin and tomatoes… There’s plenty of choice!

A to Z guide to vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that keep crop up in our favourite superfoods:

  • Vitamin A – helps in red blood cell production, supporting the immune system, promotes skin health, regulates genes, and is vital for eye health
  • B Vitamins – nourish the nervous system and promote healthy skin, hands and hair
  • Folate – naturally occurring folic acid (B9 of the B vitamin group), important for foetal development, and promotes blood & cell health
  • Vitamin C – powerful antioxidant that defends body against free radicals, promotes skin and blood vessel health, may help prevent arthritis or slow the progression of the disease
  • Vitamin D – promotes bone health (essential for absorbing calcium)
  • Vitamin E – required for proper function of the body’s organs, antioxidant properties help protect cells from free radicals
  • Vitamin K – helps promote cardiovascular and bone health
  • Calcium – mineral that is essential for bone health, also used throughout the body in teeth, muscles, blood vessels, endocrine and nervous systems
  • Choline – mineral that helps promote brain health and memory, particularly important in foetal brain development
  • Flavonoids – antioxidants that help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, preserve memory function, and generally promote overall cardiovascular and brain health,
  • Iron – mineral essential for blood and muscle health
  • Magnesium – mineral that helps promote muscle health, and the production of energy
  • Potassium – mineral that helps control blood pressure and promotes bone health
  • Selenium – mineral that promotes cardiovascular and blood health, important for reproductive health and thyroid function
  • Fibre (soluble & insoluble) – helps lower cholesterol, improves intestinal health, prevents heart disease and some cancers, reduces blood pressure, regulates blood sugar, aids in weight control
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – promote healthy circulation, brain health, lower risk of heart disease, help protect sight and hearing, especially in children
  • Protein – nutrients vital for building muscle, and promoting skin health
  • Antioxidants – umbrella term for the many types of molecules that inhibit deterioration (by oxidation) in the body’s cells, thereby promoting general health and supporting the immune system
  • Beta-carotene – antioxidant that helps rejuvenate skin, protect vision, and may even reduce risk of arthritis
  • Lycopene – antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage
  • Lutein – antioxidant that helps protect eyes from the sun, promotes eye health and lowers risk of age-related blindness
  • Zeaxanthin – antioxidant that helps promote eye health & may protect against macular degeneration

Remember (if you’ve not dropped off after this science lecture…) there is no one food that contains all of the good stuff.

The only truly healthy diet is a balanced diet. If you eat well and eat a wide range of fruit and vegetables, and proteins, carbohydrates and fats, then you will probably consume most of the above and many of the other nutritional requirements that haven’t been included here. And if there’s anything that you feel you may be missing out, then please check with a doctor or nutritionist.

Superfoods for the menopause

Every woman’s body is different – that’s for sure. And we’re rarely completely satisfied with the one we’ve got. And during the overall period of menopause – which we know can go on for years for some of us – we’re definitely not very happy with ourselves.

There has been a movement in recent times to consider the “change” as an opportunity: a new beginning. For most of us, that feels a lot like extreme Pollyanna behaviour – positive thinking gone berserk. But rather than just crossing fingers, closing eyes, and willing every symptom to just go away and never come back – maybe taking action, and making tangible changes will help us feel like we’re wrestling back some of the control over our bodies that the aging process seems to be swiping from us.

Of course, exercise and adequate sleep (which can be hard enough to get during this time of our lives) are important – as they always are. But even more than those, diet is crucial at this point in our lives. Recent research into menopause has thrown up some interesting ideas about food and hormones. Here are a few pointers to consider:

  • Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that occur in a variety of foodstuffs, a natural form of oestrogen. Find them in legumes, leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale, most berries and other fruits such as apricots.
  • “Cooling” foods, as defined by Ayurveda (the traditional system of alternative medicine originating in India), can be consumed to relieve hot flushes and inflammatory skin problems. These include dark leafy greens, cucumbers and squash, and fruit such as melons, grapes and apples.
  • Foods high in Vitamin E also seem to work for many women experiencing flashing. Try nuts, tropical fruits, and (again) dark leafy greens.
  • Isoflavones are another plant-based oestrogen found in soy, Although they are far less potent than the female hormone, it has been noted that 2-3 servings of soy (in the form of tofu, soy milk or edamame) can go some way to alleviating problems thrown up during this hormonal transition period.
  • Calcium is essential to bone health, so women dealing with osteoporosis as a side effect of menopause need to ensure their consumption of dairy products is appropriate – just make sure you’re considering the lower fat options, such as yoghurt, milk, goats cheese and pecorino. And then check that you’re getting enough Vitamin D to help your body process and absorb
    that calcium.
  • Moving away from the physical indicators thrown up by menopause, omega 3 fatty acids offer help to sufferers of depressive symptoms and insomnia: salmon and sardines, walnuts and cashews, or try soy and linseed bread for your toast.
  • If your energy levels have taken a wallop, make sure you’re getting enough protein and iron. Red meat, of course is a common source of both, but also consider the many varieties of beans: e.g. kidney, cannellini, and black beans all have distinctive flavours and textures. Crush cooked butter beans with some olive oil and parsley for a great alternative to mashed spuds. Legumes also have the bonus of adding plenty of fibre into your diet, while being low in calories.

There are many more food that could be added to this list. It’s worth checking out current thinking on your own particular hormone-induced bugbear, and work out how best to adjust your diet so you can wave a metaphorical fist at your fluctuating hormones, and show ‘em the door!

hot flush relief

13 reasons why you should eat oats everyday

Oats are rich in fibre and a good source to boost your energy. But there are many other reasons why you simply must include oats in your daily diet.

13 reasons why you should eat oats daily

1. Improves immune system

Oats contain a fibre called beta glucans which has been extensively studied over the years. Beta glucans is also present in yeast, barley and different mushrooms. Why is it important? Well, beta glucans is known to fight viruses, bacteria and parasites there by boosting your immune system.

2. Great for weight loss

Oats and fibre are synonymous with each other. Digestion of oats is a slow process; when you consume oats the body will absorb it steadily. Since the process is a slow one you feel satiated and full for a longer duration. In simple words, oats reduces your hunger pangs and prevents you from indulging in oily and salted food.

3. Improves digestion

Since oats have a rich source of fibre, it aids digestion. It works for constipation and also works as a natural laxative. While over the counter laxatives may provide quick relief it tends to reduce body weight drastically too, but oats maintains healthy body weight. Consume oats to improve your bowel movements, as it acts like a natural scrub for the intestines.

4. Oats for diabetics

Oats contains the lowest amount of glycemic index, that is, it has the least effect on blood sugar levels. For diabetics, it is important to increase your intake of oats as it controls the glucose levels in the blood. Oats also absorbs sugar which reduces the dependence of releasing insulin.

5. Cuts the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes

Oats reduces your dependence on insulin and can improve insulin sensitivity. In a study, there was approximately 40 percent reduction of insulin dosage. Oats are one of the diabetes friendly ingredients you must have.

6. Reduces high blood pressure

Consuming oats on a daily basis can help in lowering systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. Under the supervision of a doctor, you may be able to completely stop having medication if you continue to have oats.

7. Reduces asthma risk

Studies suggests that if you introduce oats based food to a child, the risks of developing asthma is scare. Apparently, in the same study also says that if you include fish in your child’s diet at an early stage, it can prevent rhinitis.

8. Reduces cholesterol

The fibre present in oats works great for those with high cholesterol. Oats has the ability to reduce low density lipoprotein or LDL which is bad cholesterol. Oats’ soluble fibre helps trap cholesterol and eliminate it.

9. Fights cancer

Oats contains antioxidants vitamin E which prevents a build up of free radicals that can harm the body. Oats can reduce your chances of developing colon, breast and bowel cancer.

10. Increases libido

If you lack the sexual urge, then oats is your aphrodisiac. Who knew this boring and bland ingredient can boost your libido by balancing your testosterone and oestrogen?

11. Healthy skin

Looking for a natural method or home remedies to enhance your skin? Try oats to improve you skin health. Apparently you can apply oats for itchy skin, dry skin and irritated skin. Oats can work as facial packs too when mixed with yoghurt and honey.

12. Hangover cure

Next time you have a hangover prepare a bowl of oats. It will help to absorb the alcohol from the blood and reduces acidity too. A bowl of oats is all you need to reduce the effects of hangover.

13. Improves your mood

Certain foods can make you tired or bring down your mood. Then there are oats, it contains vitamin B6 which induces serotonin that preps up your mood and keeps you relaxed.

A step-by-step guide to making a perfect bowl of Oats:

oats

Stove Top Method (serves 3)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of Oats
  • 3 1/3 cups of water or skim milk

Method:

  1. Place 1 ½ cups oats as well as 3 ½ cups of skim milk into a thick based saucepan.
  2. Bring to boil, stir, then boil for 5 minutes until oats are thick and creamy.
  3. Add a dash of skim milk after cooking. Serve into bowls and add your favourite topping
    Tip: Add coconut oil or honey to sweeten.

Foods to fight stress

Woo hoo – Chocolate helps fight stress!

Well, kind of…

There had to be a reason that we reach for those comforting squares of yummy loveliness every time we feel overwhelmed. Well, the milky sugary stuff, packed full with caramel filling – that doesn’t help us at all. But it is true (scientists say so, definitely more than one of them!) that good dark chocolate has been proven to lower cortisol levels in people who record consistently higher levels of stress.

Another treat that’s also a great stress-buster is almonds. High in zinc, a mineral which some believe is essential for helping maintain a balanced mood; and all-important iron – which, among many other things, helps avoid mental fatigue by supporting brain function.

Magnesium is another of those incredibly useful minerals that should be present in many foods we eat, but gets diminished by modern processing methods. Seek out foods high in this mineral to help keep your energy levels up: leafy greens, such as spinach and kale. Gently steam them, or eat raw for maximum benefit.

Look to other colours in your food too – orange and yellow pigments tend to indicate decent levels of vitamins A & C, as well as folate and antioxidants: mangoes, papaya, carrots, capsicums. These fruits and vegetables don’t just make you happy because they look jolly on your plate, they can work as mood enhancers, and help repair and protect cells in bodies that are stressed.

And here’s quick run down of other things to look at increasing in your daily intake. These not only make you feel better, but also combat the negative effects that stress places on the body.

Foods to fight stress:

  • Depression has been linked to low levels of folic acid: asparagus packs a punch-full, as do citrus fruits, broccoli and legumes.
  • Eat foods high in B Vitamins for healthy nerves and brain cells. Links have been identified between anxiety and reduced levels of B Vitamins, so try a warm glass of milk which carries B2 and B12 as well as calcium, potassium, and protein.
  • The potassium in milk (and bananas, potatoes, nectarines and dried apricots) can help relieve the cramps and muscle spasms brought on by tension.
  • Omega-3 protects you from spikes in adrenalin and cortisol levels during difficult moments. Protect your heart by eating a wide variety of foods full of these amazing fatty acids: salmon, walnuts, black beans, enriched eggs and wild rice to name a few.
  • Bolster your immune system, which can be so compromised by stress and anxiety, with foods high in Vitamin E; super foods almonds and spinach fall into this category again, as well as other nuts, sunflower seeds, avocados and wheat germ oil.
  • Tryptophan is an amino acid. As the body digests it, it signals the brain to release serotonin, a calming neurotransmitter that can trigger the warm fuzzies and sometimes sleepiness. It turns up in dairy foods (cottage cheese is a good one), turkey and lettuce (Peter Rabbit falling asleep in Mr McGregor’s vegetable patch, anyone? Check with your four-year-old.)
  • Whole grains are relatively easy to incorporate into your daily diet – in fact they’ve been encouraging us to do so for years, for all sorts of reasons, and now there’s yet another: they’re full of magnesium, contain tryptophan, and their low GI means they satisfy us easily and give us healthy, long lasting energy.

And the most basic of all – remember to drink plenty of water. It’s really easy for dehydration to creep up on us; it strains the body immensely, and can make anxiety worse. A simple glass of water can go a long way to knocking the edge off it!

reduce stress

Breakfast of champions: Wild variations on porridge

Oats have long been classified as a superfood. And its no wonder: they pack a nutritional punch with a whopping 15% of your daily intake of fibre, vitamin B group, magnesium, phosphorus and Iron.

Oats and Barley are very slow to digest and rich in Beta-Glucan making them an excellent energy source. They are also a great help in reducing LDL cholesterol and lowering blood sugar; a great help with diabetes and inflammatory disease.

Oats are typically served up hot as porridge. We opt for quick oats in the microwave, but you can get a bit more exotic using your rice cooker and this recipe below:

Ingredients:

  • ½  cup rolled oats per person (plus extra half cup per two teenage boys)
  • 1 cup of milk per, plus extra for consistency. Skim or organic soy is best.

Just pop everything into the rice cooker, stir and press “porridge”. This is the basic recipe. To ramp it up, add chopped banana and or pear or any seedless fruit. Raisins, currants or sultanas add a depth of flavour (but these aren’t so good for weight loss) and top with chia seeds and or flax seeds. Our favourite is to add dried coconut and raisins with banana (just slightly unripe) added just at the end. Top with chia and flax seed and, hey-presto, breakfast of champions.

Another variation:

  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup quinoa flakes
  • ½ cup Barley flakes

Cook as above.

 

Superfood salad: Quinoa with kale and grapefruit

Rich in protein, fibre and loaded with vitamins A, C and B plus minerals, magnesium and iron, this superfood salad is well worth a try!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup organic quinoa
  • 1 grapefruit (pink or white)
  • 1 bag baby kale
  • 1 tbsp. pinenuts
  • 2 tbsps. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. flaxseed oil
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • Juice from the grapefruit

Method:

  • Place the quinoa in your rice cooker with 1 cup of water, and cook until still just firm. (Check toward the end so as not to overcook). Then refresh under cool water. Set aside in the salad bowl.
  • (If you already know how to segment a grapefruit skip this bit). Remove the top and bottom of the grapefruit, and then use a knife to remove the skin, top to bottom removing as much pith as you can. Over a bowl slip a knife between the membrane and the flesh on each side, down to the centre and drop the segments into the bowl. When only the skeleton is left squeeze the juice from it into the bowl.
  • Add the segments without the juice to the quinoa and then add the washed kale.
  • Make the dressing by adding the oils and the vinegar to the juice and whisk briskly.
  • Dress and gently toss the salad and garnish with the pinenuts.
  • Enjoy!